Report recommends £1bn fund to right Church of England's past wrongs on slavery

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A new report has recommended that the Church of England create a £1bn fund in response to its historic links to the transatlantic slave trade. 

The Church Commissioners, which manages the Church of England’s investment arm, had already committed to a £100m fund last year but the independent Oversight Group, which is advising them on their slavery response, said this was not enough “relative either to the scale of the Church Commissioners’ endowment or to the scale of the moral sin and crime”.

The report recommends that the Fund for Healing, Repair and Justice pay out £100m over the next five years as an “initial allocation”. 

“Acknowledging the state of global racial inequity largely linked to African chattel enslavement, we recommend viewing this fund as part of a wider systems change,” the report says.

“The aspiration should be for this initial commitment to form the nucleus of a larger investment initiative with target assets of over £1bn.” 

The report says that the fund should be used to invest in black-led businesses focusing on education, economic empowerment, health outcomes and improving access to land and food, while grants should be provided to communities that continue to be impacted by the legacy of the transatlantic slave trade.  

“Crimes against humanity rooted in African chattel enslavement have caused damage so vast it will require patient effort spanning generations to address. But we can start today, in small and large ways,” it says. 

The Oversight Group would like to see the impact investment and spending programme start operating later in 2024.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who is also chair of the Board of Governors of the Church Commissioners, welcomed the report. 

“In seeking justice for all, we must continue to work together remembering that all are created in the image of God,” he said.

“The Oversight Group’s independent work with the Church Commissioners is the beginning of a multi-generational response to the appalling evil of transatlantic chattel enslavement.

“My prayer is that this work will stimulate further visionary and practical co-created action.”

Bishop of Croydon, Dr Rosemarie Mallett, chair of the Oversight Group said: “No amount of money can fully atone for or fully redress the centuries long impact of African chattel enslavement, the effects of which are still felt around the world today.

“But implementing the recommendations will show the commitment of the Church Commissioners to supporting the process of healing, repair and justice for all of those across society impacted by the legacy of African chattel enslavement.”

She continued, “This work and the fund matter because the legacy of African enslavement continues to have a significant impact on communities today and inequalities persist till this day.

“The impact is measurable and apparent in everything from pregnancy and childbirth outcomes to life chances at birth, physical and mental health, education, employment, income, property, and the criminal justice system.

“We hope this initiative is just the start and is a catalyst to encourage other institutions to investigate their past and make a better future for impacted communities.”

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